Philadelphia’s DHS License: A Mark of Operational Standards Improvement
In a move that will help in rebuilding the residents’ confidence in the leadership capabilities of the current Philadelphia City’s leaders, the Pennsylvania state authorities have reportedly upgraded the city’s Department of Human Services’ license. The nod of confidence comes after almost a year when Pennsylvania’s Health and Human Services Department downgraded the city’s license to provisional after a reviewed of the DHS’s operations revealed several policy violations and substandard services. During the May 2016 review, the state authorities established that DHS has grossly violated policies on documentation and record keeping as well as children welfare. Some of children under the care of DHS were forced to sleep overnight in DHS’s offices. The agency staffs were found to have falsified records and in cases where they were correct, most of them were poorly documented.
The 2016 suspension marked another phase in the agency’s sea sawing performance marked by highs and lows. This latest license downgrade to provisional was the second time within a span of seven years following the 2009 operational debacle, which saw the DHS lose its full operational status. The return to full operational license was announced by the state Secretary in charge of Health and Human Services, Ted Dallas. The good news, which sent via an official letter from the state office, was received by Cynthia Figueroa, DHS Commissioner whose central role in the upgrading of the license was praised by Mr. Dallas. She noted that the benefits of the reinstatement would be manifold with children enjoying better welfare services while the DHS and Philadelphia enjoying better relationship with its partners.
The announcement crowned close to a year of operational changes at the DHS that saw the agency develop performance measurement metrics for its various operations. It also saw DHS increase its coordination with the Community Umbrella Agencies (CUAs) during case management operations. The neighborhood agencies and DHS have increased their integration activities including decision making and deducing accountability. DHS has increased the number of case workers and supervisors. This has resulted in few violations while the few that were identified were less severe compared to 2016. Consequently, there was no increase in the number of children put under DHS welfare services compared to a 13 percent increase during the 2016 review. More children are being taken in by their relatives and close friends under DHS’s kingship program. The establishment of CUAs in 2012 to privatize welfare service provision played a key role in the agency’s license.